A haze

I have in me like a haze
Which holds and which is nothing
A nostalgia for nothing at all,
The desire for something vague.

I’m wrapped by it
As by a fog, and I see
The final star shining
Above the stub in my ashtray.

I smoked my life. How uncertain
All I saw or read! All
The world is a great open book
That smiles at me in an unknown tongue


Tenho em mim como uma bruma
Que nada é nem contém
A saudade de coisa nenhuma,
O desejo de qualquer bem.

Sou envolvido por ela
Como por um nevoeiro
E vejo luzir a última estrela
Por cima da ponta do meu cinzeiro

Fumei a vida. Que incerto
Tudo quanto vi ou li!
E todo o mundo é um grande livro aberto
Que em ignorada língua me sorri.

Monday poetry comes on Wednesday because Fernando Pessoa was born on this day in Lisbon 130 years ago. 

Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith

Photo: crossing back to Porto, May 2018

Little things

Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things,
Great deeds of valour and might,
That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.
But it is the doing of old things,
Small acts that are just and right;
And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;
In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when

          you want to play—
Dear, those are the things that count.

And, dear, it isn’t the new ways
Where the wonder-seekers crowd
That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.
But it is keeping to true ways,
Though the music is not so loud,
And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along

          alone;
In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a

          groan—
Dear, these are the things that count.

My dear, it isn’t the loud part
Of creeds that are pleasing to God,
Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or

          song.
But it is the beautiful proud part
Of walking with feet faith-shod;
And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go

          wrong;
In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when

          the way seems long—

Dear, these are the things that count.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The Things that Count

 

What I’ve failed to write

131 days ago life took a weird, sharp turn after a few months of my driving it erratically in and out of course. Because I am prone to think of my life as a movie or perhaps as a series of pilot episodes in shows that never get aired, I failed to realize that maybe real life was happening. And I have a problem with this. My mind anticipates all kinds of scenarios, dramatic dialogues and plot twists, failing to see what’s right in front of me, failing to hear Caetano‘s warning that life is after all real and skewed. I insist on other melodies, I insist on not getting tired of hoping that one day I will get to be everything.

My homeless heart
Wants to keep the world
In me

131 days ago we coincided in space and time; he told me I was making him travel, I didn’t realize he was making me come home. For once, life was not about being the rebel in a made up cause, it was not about coming up with the perfect character for the occasion, it was not about trying to be perfect, it was not about packing and going somewhere trying to find whatever is needed at the moment to feel more alive. It was about staying. I didn’t know that to stay took a special kind of courage. I have spent well over seven thousand days of my adult life being adventurously brave, going everywhere, doing everything, preferably on my own. Along the way I collected all the clichés of falling madly, deeply and foolishly in love, of getting married and divorced, of hurting and getting hurt and feeling that I have committed the worse sin my twelve years of Catholic, yet somewhat liberal, education helped me identify, I have wasted my time and have, of course, ended up being wasted by it. Staying, in the same way as getting older, is not for the faint of heart. Staying means you have to face life as it is not as you think it was meant to be.

131 days ago I begun to understand what years of fictional manipulation have done to me, how they have created the most unrealistic expectations and contributed to an almost complete emotional disarrangement. In the midst of my inability to deal with what was happening, I have read these wise words:

Your deepest beliefs about seduction were carefully crafted by high-capitalist strategists. Lust and fantasy are opiates of the masses, easily manipulated into shapes that human animals fall for, over and over again.

I have never really taken advice columns very seriously, probably because I tend to be a bit of a snob, but every single word Heather Havrilesky poured into her column of February 28, struck a chord and I understood that yes, it was really about surrendering to reality with no futile embellishments. And still, 131 days were not enough to learn that the assumptions one makes about one self and others are also created by all the nonsense around you and that they are not real. For 131 days I have promised myself, almost everyday, that I was not going to fall in that trap, I was going to let life get real because it might not be the most glamorous or exciting place to be but you have at least a chance of not seeing life disappear without getting to live it. But, self-sabotage is a powerful force, “a way of avoiding that moment of showing up, of facing potential loss, of being strong enough and courageous enough to surrender to the unknown — but also, to surrender to the goodness of ordinary human beings.” 131 days ago,  getting hurt living my fictional life was easy enough to deal with because fictional feelings tend to be overtly dramatic but shallow.

Getting hurt in real life gets you broken.

References

Caetano Veloso, O quereres, Coração Vagabundo

William Shakespeare, Richard II 

Bette Davis

Ask Polly 

Out of place

 

Homens que são como lugares mal situados
Homens que são como casas saqueadas
Que são como sítios fora dos mapas
Como pedras fora do chão
Como crianças órfãs
Homens sem fuso horário
Homens agitados sem bússola onde repousem

Homens que são como fronteiras invadidas
Que são como caminhos barricados
Homens que querem passar pelos atalhos sufocados
Homens sulfatados por todos os destinos
Desempregados das suas vidas

Homens que são como a negação das estratégias
Que são como os esconderijos dos contrabandistas
Homens encarcerados abrindo-se com facas

Homens que são como danos irreparáveis
Homens que são sobreviventes vivos
Homens que são como sítios desviados
Do lugar

Daniel Faria, Poesia

Men who are like places in the wrong place
Men who are like plundered houses
Like locations not on maps
Like stones not on the ground
Like orphaned children
Men without a time zone
Agitated men with no compass to rest on

Men who are like violated borders  
Like barricaded roads
Men who are drawn to choked pathways
Men spattered by all destinies
Laid off from their lives

Men who are like the negation of strategies
Like the hiding-places of smugglers
Incarcerated men opening themselves with knives

Men who are like irreparable damage
Men who are barely living survivors
Men who are like places wrenched
Out of place

Daniel Faria translated by Richard Zenith

 

Today I start counting days of absence because I failed to understand all the days of Being

Not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.

Herman Hesse, Siddhartha